Paul is a full-time fifth-grade teacher at an elementary school in Fairfield ... Paul is a New York Emmy award winner (2007), five-time Emmy nominee, and four-time winner of the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcasters' Association award for 'Best Weathercast' in Connecticut (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) ... The local weather journal is a two-time winner of the Communicator Award of Distinction (2012 & 2013) ... Paul was inducted into the Housatonic Community College Hall of Fame and received the Distinguished Alumni Award (2012) ... Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulPiorek ...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Historic February Blizzard Tops Year in Weather

There is no question the historic February snowstorm, which dumped nearly three feet of snow in Fairfield and snow drifts of four-to-five feet from Friday, February 8, through Saturday, February 9, is the top local weather story of the year. The snow began falling just after 7 o'clock Friday morning, February 7, and became steadier and heavier throughout the day and night. A Blizzard Warning was issued for the entire state, and heavy snow combined with gusty winds to produce near-whiteout conditions Friday night.

By the time all was said and done, it was almost impossible to open my kitchen door and go outside. The snow-level was so high that the door would not open easily. The daunting task of shoveling the snow off the steps, sidewalk, and driveway almost seemed impossible when I stepped outside. I knew that I had to take my time due to the 40-plus mile-an-hour wind gusts, wind chill values in the teens, and my advancing age. After about an hour, I began making progress.

According to the National Weather Service, Fairfield hit the jackpot with the most snow in Fairfield County with 35 inches. However, regionally, Milford topped the list with 38 inches. That's more than the normal amount of snow for the entire Winter season, and nearly twice as much as what we received this season prior to the storm. Last year, less than a foot (11") of snow fell through February 8. The snowiest Winter on record, however, happened 18 years ago when Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford reported 78" from 1995-96. Here's a view of my street from this afternoon.

Here are the totals from the National Weather Service:
  • Milford: 38"
  • Fairfield: 35"
  • Stratford: 33"
  • Monroe: 30"
  • Bridgeport: 30"
  • Weston: 26.5"
  • Shelton: 26.5"
  • Westport: 24.5"
  • Greenwich: 22.5"
  • Darien: 22.1"
  • Norwalk: 22"
  • New Canaan: 22"
  • Danbury: 21.5"
  • Stamford: 19"
  • Newtown: 17.1"
  • Bethel: 16"
  • Ridgefield: 12"
The storm was the result of a combination of a strong coastal low which moved up the Atlantic seaboard and an approaching front to the North and West. The two systems merged and the storm exploded Friday night. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy closed the state roads, much like the late-Gov. Ella Grasso 35 years earlier during the Blizzard of 1978. A snowplow driver got stuck in the snow in front of my house and abandoned his vehicle Saturday morning. It has been sitting there ever since.

The second part of the storm entered into a colder environment late Friday night and with plenty of moisture it resulted in intense banding and a powdery, wind-driven snow between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. That resulted in snow totals which were much greater than expected. Fortunately, damaging winds and severe coastal flooding issues were not as severe and certainly not as widespread as feared. However, many people lost power.

Meteorologist Geoff Fox took a time-lapse video of the snowstorm from inside looking out at his deck. He wrote, "This time lapse starts just after 6:00 AM and goes past 11:00 PM. It stops because there’s nothing left to see! There are a bunch of web postings saying the GoPro’s battery is only good for 2.5 hours of time lapse. That’s why I plugged it into an AC adapter and propped it up against a glass paneled door to the deck."